Monday, July 2, 2012

The #EduBros are (not) a big deal #ISTE12

I've been playing with this post in my head for a number of days now. I wanted to talk about the craziness of the #EduBros phenomenon, but wanted to stay away from sounding arrogant, obnoxious and all of those other things I do not like in people on Twitter or Blogs. After talking with some friends that I respect greatly, I decided I could do this post in a way that doesn't come off TOO obnoxious and that is what I'm aiming for. Bare with me and enjoy the ride.

Feel free to skip down if you know the origin story.

In preparation for #ISTE11 in Philadelphia, my buddy Tim (@Tgwynn) and I thought it would be cool to host a trivia based pub crawl after the opening Keynote. We thought it would be a fun way to  relax before a few days of intense learning. We sent out some invites, created some Foursquare checkins and had a great time. It was well attended and people wanted to know what we were going to do next. Tim and I put the word out and we were able to organize a party on Sunday before #ISTE12.

As we got closer to #ISTE12, I thought it would be fun to invite Sir Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson) to the event. I sent him a couple of tweets each day that were RTd by friends, but I never thought it would be a big deal. Then, this happened:

Tim and I were shocked! We could not believe that he had actually taken the time to tweet us back. We decided it would be polite to thank him and knight him an honorary #EduBro. Then this happened:

This was our reaction:

Not Staged
We were beyond geeked and our Twitter feeds had blown up over the mentions. We giggled and talked about how powerful Social Media can be if a couple of guys could get the attention of Sir Ken Robinson. We figured the whole thing was done and over with and got to planning the last bits of the party.

We did not go into the Keynote room because we figured we would need to ditch early to get the party going. Then, this happened, 

Skip ahead to the 33:40 for the shout out.

Followed by this, 

Trending Worldwide!
This is the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened. This is the ultimate in silliness.

Here is why it is not a big deal:

I'm not a better teacher for it. It is an awesome story that few friends will think is awesome, but nobody, and I mean nobody, in my district will even bat an eyelash at it. Why should they though? Will it create a better learning environment for my students? I'm guessing that it will not. The fact the Sir Ken Robinson gave me a shout it is neat, but has nothing to do with who I am as a classroom teacher and that is what is most important. 

I'm not a big deal on Twitter because of this either. I'm still the same nerd that talks way too much in social situations and makes too many obscure references to thinks I (or Tim) only think are funny. I'm no more of an expert on all things education and technology related because Sir Ken sent a couple of tweets and mention me in the Opening Keynote. I actually wasn't even mention by name at all. If you listen closely, it sounds more like "EduBras" than EduBros. 

I still have tons of work to do when it comes to being a better teacher and while this was a cool event and story I will share for all time, it doesn't make me a better educator which is why I attend ISTE in the first place. 

Here is why the #EduBros are a big deal:

Two random people became friends and maintain that friendship using social media to connect and keep in touch. We see each other twice a year for a total of two weeks max, but act as if we have seen each other the other day. This is true for a large group of us and will remain true for some time. 

We have managed to leverage social media to throw two parties during an international conference and no cost to us. While most vendors struggle to throw great parties and get people to attend, we took Sunday night to ourselves and brought over 200 people to party. This would not have been possible without the use of social media. 

We started a small Meme at #ISTE12 with the finger-stache photos. These included tons of picutres from all over the world and the conference. We were even able to get Sir Ken and Mayim (Blossom) to join the fun. 

We were encouraged to host an impromptu session in the Newbie lounge where the first honorary #EduBro showed up (Jeff K) over Skype to share his thoughts on the power of social media and making connections. 

We trended worldwide! I'm sorry, but that is a big deal. I know that there are many crazy things that tend to trend (Rhyme!), but this was something special because we had no control over it. It just sort of happened and it's something to remember and share for-ev-er.

The biggest reason that the #EduBros event was a big deal is that it is the best example of educational professionals leveraging Social Media to connect with the world around them. Our only goal was to put together a party for friends. It turned into a trending event around the world where people took pictures of their finger in front of their face in the hopes of attending. I was able to connect to people I never thought possible because a friend and I decided to be a little silly. 

Social Media is a tool that can be used in so many different ways that it is just wrong for any educator to say there is not value in using it. Like all tools, educators need to search for the value and utilize it. While this specific event does not make me a better teacher, it has connected me with more educators which can make me a better educator. That is the big take away from this whole event. It's what I hope everyone who reads this walks away with as well. 

I need to get going to send Sir Ken his money and try and fit my gigantic head out the front door. :-)


  1. Good for you guys! It is indeed an accomplishment and your students can learn from this lesson of networking and ingenuity. -@ATLTeacher

  2. I totally agree with @atlteacher. I had a great time at the #EduBros party. I made several new friends as a result of the party. Looking forward to the sequel at #ISTE13. Your friend...Oprah.

  3. At your #ISTE13 event, you need wifi, a huge tv screen/monitor and a Google Hangout going on so those not in actual attendance can participate. Can you imagine a huge virtual group of attendees? That's your next step.

  4. This is a great story, and I really... really hate to be that girl, but I'm not sure that #edubros being a trending topic means what it used to mean.

    About a month ago, Twitter launched Tailored trends, which are based both on your location and who you follow. In a nutshell, if your Twitter app or client is location aware and has access to those you follow, it would show Sir Ken, ISTE and #edubros trending. This would also be the case for the people around you, especially if they follow similar accounts or are in the same location as 13,000+ educators were just a couple of weeks ago.

    Here are a couple of recent articles-- not from Twitter but from tech blogs-- that discuss Tailored Trends. Regardless of the changes Twitter has made and what implications that may have on this post... good job, guys. :-)

  5. Nick,
    I was in the ballroom during the keynote and nearly fell out of my chair when Sir Ken asked where the Edubros were. You and Tim have taught me several things through this experience.

    First, social media is a powerful tool that can be used to accomplish many things. You got Sir Ken to give you a shout-out during his keynote and that will be a lasting memory for not only you and Tim, but for all of your friends to walk away from ISTE with. Second, you showed many educators through this exchange that we should not be in awe of the "names" that attend ISTE. They, too, like to be viewed as human beings who enjoy some fun and not as some kind of deity. I bet Sir Ken is also telling this story to his friends as a fun highlight of his time at ISTE.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and for making ISTE more human for all of us that took part in your EduBros adventure. Hugs to you and Tim.


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